Unexpected chart success for a new style of dance/pop fusion
Numbers come up a lot when discussing London's Disclosure — specifically, 18 and 21, the current ages of the two brothers, Howard and Guy Lawrence, who form the duo. Then there's 2000 — the year that U.K. garage (the style that has informed much of their music so far) hit its commercial and creative apex. Now, though, as Disclosure reach the end of their breakout year, a few new figures are creeping into the equation. There's 6/8, the time signature they used for their wildly successful recent single, "Latch," and 584,553 and 1,545,966 — the number of plays that the song has gotten on SoundCloud and YouTube, respectively. (As I write this, anyway; they're climbing fast.) Finally, and most tellingly, there's 11 — the single's peak, so far, in the U.K. charts.
That last number is kind of a big deal. It makes official the duo's transition (at least for the moment) from the self-styled dance-music underground to the world of pop, full stop. Should they manage to maintain their trajectory, it would be appropriate: U.K. garage, after all, was all about the collision of niche dance styles and the wider British public's thirst for something new. It was, at least until the recent wave of "EDM" came around, dance music's last big push into pop. It wasn't long before U.K. garage crashed and burned, of course, so it's probably smart that Disclosure themselves are opening up their sound and moving beyond the 2-step pastiche with which they made their name. "Latch," featuring the singer Sam Smith, is essentially a big, gooey R&B tune, albeit imbued with the kind of crisp, springy club energy that SBTRKT and James Blake have brought to the table in recent years.
Now, a pair of "Latch" remixes reconnect the song with the duo's roots in underground dance music. T. Williams' club edit of the tune kicks off with its trademark triplets before simulating the sound of a vinyl LP slowing to a crawl, and then jumping back into action with a wily 2-step groove. And Jamie Jones' "Marzy House" mix, which went up on SoundCloud yesterday, smoothes it into the kind of sunny, rooftop-party-friendly deep house so popular on the Miami/L.A./Ibiza circuit, and in the sets of Jones' pals like Seth Troxler and Damian Lazarus.
Interestingly, Jones also has a track in the U.K. pop charts right now: Hot Natured, his duo with Foss, are currently sitting at No. 40 with their single "Benediction," with Ali Love. (The song's success was apparently so unexpected that Jones even took to Facebook to assure fans that he hadn't sold out.) The song is right out of Jones and his peers' customary playbook, with an easygoing vibe that strikes a balance between 1990s house and 1980s R&B. It's as much a pop song as a dance track, and yet, in terms of its overall feel, it's the polar opposite of the kind of pop-dance fusion that big-name acts like Swedish House Mafia and Calvin Harris have leveraged for their success at the top of the EDM heap. Those two acts are way up at the other end of the chart, and No. 4 and No. 6, respectively. But Hot Natured's breakthrough suggests that the pop public's taste in electronic music is broader than anyone suspected. Don't be surprised if those rooftop parties start getting more and more crowded.
Listen to all three versions of "Latch" below.